St. Louis-area home builder, Taylor-Morley Homes, has closed its doors. The company, struggling with heavy debt burdens, ceased operations, including all warranty services, on May 30, according to a recording on the company’s office phone line.

Attempts to reach company chairman and CEO Bill Taylor Wednesday were unsuccessful. Taylor told Builder in the fall of 2007 that his home building company was in serious financial trouble, but that he hoped to work out its debt issues with several banks to allow operations to continue, albeit with a greatly reduced number of projects.

Taylor-Morley’s financial problems can be traced back to its land purchases during the housing boom, former president Kevin Krafve told Builder in the fall. The company bought land through the early winter of 2006, long after signs of a housing downturn were popping up in markets around the country.

Taylor admitted that when borrowing money from banks was cheap, the company borrowed heavily and bought land, and was, he said, “Not really seeing too far down the road.” Taylor also said he and other company officers did not keep an eye on how much cash reserves the builder had.

A report from St. Louis, Mo., Fox Television Channel 2 notes that Taylor-Morley has yet to file for bankruptcy and a report from the St. Louis Business Journal says the builder finished 80 homes that it had in backlog before closing its doors.

Taylor-Morley closed 178 units in 2007, and held a 1.7 percent share of the St. Louis housing market in 2007. The number of units was down from 2006, when the company closed 206 units, but its 1.7 percent market share remained the same.

The recording left on Taylor-Morley’s office phone offers the following information:

“Please be advised that Taylor-Morley, Inc. and Taylor-Morley Custom Home Builders, LLC, ceased day-to-day operations on May 30th, 2008, including warranty service. If you are calling for a request regarding warranty service, you may wish to contact either Quality Builders Warranty Corp. at 717-737-2522, or Bonded Builders Warranty Group at 800-749-0381, depending upon which third party-warranty program you received at the closing on your home.”

John Gill, general counsel for Quality Builders Warranty Corp., says that Taylor-Morley stopped doing business with the warranty company more than a year ago, and had not sent notification that it would be going out of business. Most of the warranties held by Quality Builders, Gill says, have expired, and the warranty company does not expect, nor has it received, panicked phone calls from Taylor-Morley home owners.

"They did build a good home, and they took care of their issues," Gill says. "So I wouldn’t expect an outpouring on the homes that we have warranties on.”

Learn more about markets featured in this article: St. Louis, MO.